Over the past few decades, gay marriage has been one of the most controversial civil rights issues in the world. For the bulk of the twentieth century, American authorities did not acknowledge same-sex unions. This recognition started in 1990 when the Census Bureau started to collect data on homosexual couples (Hunter, 2012). The data collected indicated a steady rise in the number of same-sex couples in the United States. As of 2010, there were 646,464 homosexual couples living in the country (Hunter, 2012). Even more significant is the fact many couples living in states that recognize the relationships have formalized their unions. This trend indicates growth in the number of couples seeking to formalize their same-sex marriage. This increase in the number of gay marriages in the United States is bound to have an impact on public perceptions concerning same-sex unions.
One argument about gay marriage is that the rising number of same-sex unions has resulted in an increase in the number of people who support the idea of gay marriage. The Pew Research Centre (2013) carried out a study that revealed that the acceptance of same-sex couples in the United States has increased steadily over the past two decades. This change in public opinion has coincided with the rise in number of gay marriages and unions in states that allow such arrangements. In 2003, a study by the Pew Research Centre (2013) revealed that fifty-eight percent of Americans were opposed to the idea of allowing homosexual couples to marry legally. At the time, only thirty-three percent of the respondents claimed to be in favor of such unions. After ten years, there has been a reversal in the numbers with those supporting the unions now outnumbering those against them. Forty-nine percent of the respondents interviewed were in support of same-sex marriages while forty-four percent were opposed to the idea (Pew Research Centre, 2013). Even more interesting is the fact that the increase in number of such unions has had a direct effect on the perceptions of Americans, with almost twenty percent of the people who changed their minds saying that they did so because they felt that the world had changed.
The increase in the number of homosexual couples has also paved the way for schools in the United States to teach children about homosexuality. Following the approval of same-sex marriages in several states in the US, scholars expect there to be changes in the school curriculum in recognition of these legal changes. The Safe Schools Coalition has gone as far as to suggest certain themes that should be discussed, which can be considered appropriate for schoolchildren (Rogers & Fossey, 2011). Despite this, the introduction of homosexual themes in the school curricula is still a controversial issue. Rogers and Fossey (2011) argue that parents have a right to choose what their children are taught in school and that previous court cases have set a precedent in favor of that argument.
Lastly, the increasing number of gay marriages has led to the general acceptance of same-sex couples as stable and normal parents for adopted children. One controversial issue concerning gay marriage concerned the traditional perception of the American family. A majority of the people opposed to homosexual unions felt that such marriages would undermine the idea of the American family (Pew Research Centre, 2013). However, public perceptions on this notion have changed. Sixty-four percent of Americans now believe that families made up of same-sex parents are just as good as those that have heterosexual parents (Pew Research Centre, 2013). This change implies that the traditional idea of the American family has changed substantially and that people now accept the idea that homosexual couples are just as good parents as heterosexual ones.
Gay marriage has always been a contentious issue in most parts of the world, with many people believing that the sanctioning of such unions will have negative effects on society and its moral fabric. However, a rise in the number of homosexual marriages in the United States has had different results. The marriages have seen an increase in the acceptance of gay unions within Americans, as well as a change in the perceptions of the traditional American family. Schools have also introduced themes and ideas relating to same-sex marriage, but scholars expect this to spark a wide backlash. In light of all these changes, it is rather obvious that the idea of gay marriage will become a permanent part of society and this makes it necessary for people to start warming up to it.
Hunter, N.D. (2012). The future impact of same-sex marriage: More questions than answers. The Georgetown Law Journal, 100, 1855-1879.
Pew Research Centre. (2013, March 20). Growing support for gay marriage: Changed minds and changing demographics. Retrieved from http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/3-20-13%20Gay%20Marriage%20Release.pdf
Rogers, K. & Fossey, R. (2011) Same-sex marriage and the public school curriculum: Can parents opt their children out of curricular discussions about sexual orientation and same-sex marriage? BYU Education & Law Journal, 2011 (1), 423-473.
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